Things to do in Dubai

Things to do in  Dubai

Understated is overrated

With its spiky skyscrapers dividing the UAE desert from the Persian Gulf, Dubai vies for the crown of the world’s most futuristic metropolis. Yet, while many of the best things to do in Dubai involve its space-age architecture, there’s plenty else here. After admiring the iconic Burj Khalifa, Burj Al-Arab, and Palm, travelers hit the desert dunes on safaris, enjoy water parks, theme parks, and aquariums; lounge on sandy beaches, shop at cutting-edge malls, and rewind to old-time Dubai in its shaded souks, Bedouin-heritage museums, and pretty wind tower districts.

Top 15 attractions in Dubai

Burj Khalifa

Towering over downtown Dubai, Burj Khalifa boasts the accolade of the world’s tallest building—it stands at a whopping 2,717 feet (828 meters) high. Admire its elaborate exterior, inspired by Islamic art, on a Dubai sightseeing tour or take a high-speed elevator to the 124th floor, where you’ll find At The Top, the world’s tallest observation deck. Opt for a skip-the-line ticket to beat the crowds and glide straight to the summit. Some admission ticket packages also include entry to Ski Dubai and a trip to the Burj Al-Arab desertMore

Dubai Marina

Carved along the Gulf shoreline south of Dubai’s The Palm island, Dubai Marina is a skyscraper-packed waterfront community that’s one of the city’s swishest residential and leisure hotspots. At its heart is a 2-mile (3-kilometer) waterway framed by residential blocks, hotels, shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.More

Burj Al-Arab Jumeirah

The sail-like silhouette of the Burj Al-Arab Jumeirah has become a symbol of Dubai's opulence and affluence, standing at 1,053 feet (321 meters) as the third-tallest hotel and one of the most luxurious hotels in the United Arab Emirates. Opened in 1999, the landmark boasts plenty of superlatives, including its five-star status.More

Palm Jumeirah

Jutting into the Persian Gulf from southern Dubai, the Palm Jumeirah is an artificial island in the shape of a palm tree and ringed by a crescent-shaped breakwater. The world’s biggest artificial island, it draws visitors to its palatial hotels, theme parks, and shopping malls.More

Dubai Gold Souk

Dubai’s internationally famous Gold Souk has its roots in the 1940s, when Indian and Iranian traders began setting up stalls in the area. Today, it’s one of the world’s busiest jewelry markets, with hundreds of shops and stalls selling just about everything that glitters—namely, gold. An estimated 20 percent of the world’s gold passes through the souk, with a whopping 10 tons (9,072 kilograms) for sale in the market at any given moment.More

Bur Dubai Village

Located south of Dubai Creek, Bur Dubai is one of Dubai’s oldest districts, with a traditional atmosphere to match. Extending from Al Raffa in the west to Al Jaddaf in the east, it’s home to an array of sights, from the Bastakia Quarter—also called the Al Fahidi Historic District—to souks, parks, and several top museums.More

Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai)

The seawater Dubai Creek (Khor Dubai)—which flows between Deira and Bur Dubai in the historic center of the United Arab Emirates city—is the reason for Dubai's very existence. It’s been widened many times during the last century and, today, it's often full of abra (wooden water taxis) ferrying passengers between the souks of Deira on the northeastern bank and the historic district of Bur Dubai on the southwestern bank.More

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

Within the Dubai Mall, the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is no stranger to superlatives, including the world’s largest collection of sand sharks and one of the world’s largest acrylic panel viewing platforms. Numerous marine habitats, including an underwater tunnel, house 33,000 marine animals, from crocodiles to tropical fish.More

The Dubai Mall

The world’s largest shopping mall by area, The Dubai Mall boasts a huge range of attractions—making it a full-blown UAE entertainment destination. At the heart of Downtown Dubai, this 4-level colossus houses around 1,300 stores, plus restaurants, cinemas, Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, and the Burj Khalifa.More

Dubai Museum

Set inside Al Fahidi Fort, the Dubai Museum recounts the Emirates’ history up until the oil boom, which forever altered its skyline. Dioramas and artifacts convey what daily life was like for Dubai’s earliest communities, while life-sized re-creations of the city’s early souks and wharfs bring the past to life.More

Dubai Spice Souk

Tucked into Dubai’s Deira district just north of Dubai Creek, the Dubai Spice Souk offers some of the city’s most rewarding shopping. Here, covered alleyways brim with stalls that sell all manner of Arabian and Asian spices, herbs, and delicacies, making the souk ideal for souvenir hunters and anyone hoping to get a sense of old Dubai.More

Aquaventure Waterpark

Brave water rides, see marine animals, and dive into pools at the Aquaventure Waterpark in Dubai. One of the Middle East's biggest and best water parks, it sits next to Atlantis, The Palm resort on Palm Jumeirah island. Visit for record-breaking slides, river rides, multiple pools, and a private beach spread over 42 acres (17 hectares) of seafront.More

Souk Madinat Jumeirah

Part of Dubai’s luxe Madinat Jumeirah resort, the Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a modern re-creation of a traditional Arabian souk, with an upscale touch. In place of higgledy-piggledy stalls, a web of alleyways echoes a classic bazaar filled with boutiques, souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafés.More

Global Village

Global Village is one of Dubai’s most popular evening entertainment destinations. A combination of festival and theme park staged on the edges of Dubai, it opens yearly between November and April and takes visitors on a virtual world tour with replica international architecture, cultural zones, food pavilions, shows, rides, and markets.More

Jumeirah Mosque

Built from white sandstone and crowned with a central dome and two towering minarets, Jumeirah Mosque is Dubai's main place of worship and arguably one of the most beautiful mosques in the United Arab Emirates. Aside from being an extremely popular photography site in Dubai, the landmark is also notable in that it's the only mosque in the city open to non-Muslim visitors—an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of Islam and its traditions.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Dubai

On Air Dinner Adventure in Dubai

On Air Dinner Adventure in Dubai

La Perle DXB: DUBAI'S #1 SHOW!

La Perle DXB: DUBAI'S #1 SHOW!

Dubai: Red Dunes Desert Safari, Sandsurf, Camels & Quad Bike Option
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Dubai Helicopter Tour

Dubai Helicopter Tour

Dubai full day tour with Entry ticket to Burj Khalifa at the Top
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Hot Air Balloon Ride, Vintage Land Rover Ride & Breakfast from Dubai
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All about Dubai

When to visit

Dubai is like an oven from May through August, prompting most travelers to stay away. As a consequence, the city’s more comfortable winters and shoulder seasons, which fuse cooler temperatures with near-guaranteed sunshine, lure the most visitors. During this time (October through April), the city is at its most crowded and expensive. But it’s also at its buzziest best, with a non-stop string of events, from the Dubai Shopping Festival and New Year’s Eve fireworks to concerts and arts festivals.

Getting around

Dubai’s tourist attractions are widely dispersed, which, when coupled with the city’s often-stifling heat, makes sightseeing on foot challenging. Although renting a car is an option, it can be daunting to drive the city’s multi-lane highways. For that reason, using taxis and ride-hailing apps like Careem is easiest for shorter trips. If you’re traveling long distances between different areas of the city, Dubai’s public transport comes into its own. You can buy and preload the local Nol Card to ride the local metro trains and public buses.

Traveler tips

Dubai has an emerging outdoor market scene spearheaded by the Ripe Market, a community souk of up-and-coming food, craft, and creative entrepreneurs and vendors. Exploring one of these markets is a great way to bag homemade delicacies and one-off handicrafts, as well as enjoy family-friendly shows, workshops, and music. Make time to visit the flagship version of Ripe, held every winter Saturday and Sunday at Dubai’s Academy Park—it makes a refreshing break from the city’s big, modern malls.


People Also Ask

What should you not miss when visiting Dubai?

Dubai’s futuristic architecture is unmissable, with the 2,723-feet (830-meter) Burj Khalifa skyscraper, sail-shaped Burj Al-Arab, and mighty Atlantis hotel on Palm Jumeirah stand-out sights. Hot on their heels—and we mean hot—is the desert, an ocean of orange dunes that feels light years from Dubai’s high-rises.

What kind of activities can you do in Dubai?

After admiring Dubai’s mega-buildings, there’s plenty else to do. Ride a camel or 4WD in the desert before a barbecue under the stars. Browse glitzy malls, roam scented souks, and chill on a yacht or dhow (wooden boat) cruise. Or simply absorb the glam vibe at the pool and ocean.

What should you not wear in Dubai?

Dress codes are more relaxed than you might expect. At pools and beaches, swimwear is acceptable. Dress more modestly inside hotels, malls, and restaurants by covering knees and shoulders—although shorts are usually okay. In souks and mosques, avoid sleeveless tops, shorts, and sandals. Mosques require women to wear head coverings.

What is Dubai best known for?

Dubai is known for its extravagant skyscrapers, opulent hotels, showy malls, and top-notch restaurants—and the A-lister lifestyle organically entwined with them. Other signature attractions include its crop of all-singing theme and water parks. In stark contrast is its desert, a beautiful and empty wilderness, which lies silently around it.

Can you drink alcohol in Dubai?

Yes, non-Muslim tourists can drink alcohol in Dubai. If you’re over 21, feel free to imbibe at licensed hotels, restaurants, and bars. However, alcohol is illegal in public places, including public beaches, and can trigger severe fines or prosecution. Note that during Ramadan most licensed venues won’t serve alcohol until early evening.

Is it expensive in Dubai?

Yes, Dubai is expensive. Lavish hotels and luxe lifestyles are synonymous with Dubai, although it’s still possible to budget in the emirate. Target the city’s Deira area for inexpensive hotels and eateries used by locals. There are also numerous free and low-cost attractions, including public beaches, souks, museums and creek boat rides.

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